Mali, Travel
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on heading eastward

In an effort to avoid another lonely Christmas in Bamako, I headed eastward. First to Mopti, an island among floodplains sprouted with rice and replete with boats, fishermen, birds, and beautiful Sudo-Sahelian (Sudo like Sudanese) architecture, with a mosque to rival the best.

Mali Mopti island Niger river fleuve tree

Mali Mopti Niger river island African traditional mud home


Mali Mopti Sudo Sahel architecture building facade

Mali Mopti landscape traditional African architecture rice field birds

On to Bandiagara, gateway to Dogon country, for an escaped Christmas Eve. 65 kilometers by moto on a mostly deserted-road [we did spot a camel!], but quick as a whistle if you ask me.


We toured the town on foot, had our fair share of Castel beer, and I thanked the stars as often as possible for sticking with me through thick and thin, but mostly thin.

 Mali Mopti Bandiagara stone architecture traditional castel beer

Bandiagara and the villages around it feature truly stunning stone architecture, a distinct departure from the mud brick and adobe that defines so much of Malian homes and other buildings. it’s unexpected, and distinguished, and I daresay downright magical.

Mali Mopti Bandiagara traditional stone architecture wall
Mali Mopti Bandiagara traditional stone architecture wall bougainvillea flower

Mali Mopti Bandiagara traditional carve carving wood Africa


Mali Mopti Bandiagara traditional architecture mud brick

For a final excursion, we headed to Djenné, old trans-Saharan trade partners with Timbuktu, and accessible by ferry most of the year round – a ferry piled with any and every manner of Important Items to Cross, including piles of wood, chickens, several taxis, and the town’s mayor.

Mali Djenne ferry river taxi mayor

There are beautiful things in Djenné, beautiful things indeed…


But the most striking, and the most famous, is the Great Mosque, largest adobe building in the world. So large, in fact, that UNESCO got involvedOutstanding and prestigious are their words…

Mali Djenne mud mosque world heritage traditional architecture unesco

I settled for “wow.” Better than any sandcastle I ever built – a most impressive pile of mud.

Mali Djenne mud mosque world heritage traditional architecture unesco

We departed Mopti to return to Bamako at 4am, and managed to make it in 10 hours, roadside breakdown notwithstanding.

Here’s to adventures, and holiday cheer.



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